Tucson Electric Power will host a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18, to discuss a proposed franchise agreement with the city of Tucson that includes a fee increase to pay for installing proposed high-voltage power lines underground.The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. at TEP's downtown headquarters, 88 E.
Broadway.Members of the public can also participate in the meeting online via Zoom. To join online, or to submit written comments using an online form, visit tep.com/franchise-agreement. To participate by telephone, call 1-669-900-6833 or 1-346-248-7799 and use meeting ID 853 8794 1842 and passcode 924142530.
City and TEP officials will be on hand to discuss the proposed agreement, answer questions and gather feedback that will be reviewed and considered by the mayor and council before next week, when members are expected to consider calling a special election in May to allow city voters to approve or reject the new franchise deal.The new, 25-year franchise agreement with TEP would replace the current voter-approved franchise agreement, which expires in April 2026.City staff and TEP have drafted an updated agreement that would include a 3% fee on monthly electric bills of TEP customers within the city, an increase from the current 2.25% franchise fee.The revenue generated by that additional 0.75% fee could be used to cover the cost of 'undergrounding' high-voltage transmission lines, with the approval of both the city and TEP.TEP has proposed running its planned Kino to DeMoss-Petrie 138-Kilovolt Transmission Line Project on overhead lines and poles up to 110 feet tall from a substation near East 36th Street and South Kino Parkway north past the University of Arizona campus and up North Campbell Avenue to a power station near Interstate 10 and West Grant Road.But the route would traverse or pass by several historic Tucson neighborhoods, and the city of Tucson says it would violate city ordinances banning overhead power lines along designated scenic and gateway corridors, including North Campbell Avenue.The city and neighborhood leaders want TEP to install the line underground.TEP says that is too costly and opposes charging all of its customers for the project through its state-regulated rates.The franchise fee increase, which would raise the bill for the average home TEP customer in Tucson by an estimated 93 cents a month, could also help fund efforts that support the city's Climate Action Plan, including new clean energy resources, electric vehicle infrastructure and heat-mitigation efforts. Tucson Electric Power is bringing its biggest solar and wind projects online as it works toward 70% renewable energy. Contact senior reporter David Wichner at EMAIL or 520-573-4181.
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